Book a visit redirect form

When should someone with dementia consider moving into a care home?

The burden of decision-making can weigh heavily on caregivers. When and where to move their loved one, as well as how to ensure the best possible care, will be some of the toughest decisions a caregiver will have to make.

The deep emotional attachment between family members and the person with dementia can intensify any feelings of guilt and sadness associated with placing a loved one in a care environment. The caregivers, often family members, may grapple with a sense of responsibility and duty, feeling guilty about their inability to provide the necessary care at home, further complicating the decision-making process.

Financial concerns about the affordability of long-term care and the management of the person’s finances add another layer of stress. The fear of the unknown can also be a worry as moving a loved one into a care home represents a significant life change, and anxiety arises from uncertainties about the person’s need to adjust, the quality of care, and their overall well-being in the unfamiliar environment.

In certain cultures, there might be societal pressure and judgement associated with placing a family member in a care home, making the decision even more challenging. Plus, the loss of control over a loved one’s daily life and routine is a significant emotional hurdle for many. Caregivers struggle with relinquishing the firsthand care they provided, adjusting to the idea that others will now take over these responsibilities.

Other challenges often lie in the complexity of a person’s care. People with dementia often require specialised care, and ensuring these needs are met in a care home setting demands trust in the facility’s staff and their expertise. Additionally, the decision can impact family dynamics, leading to shifts in roles and relationships among family members. This change in family dynamics can be emotionally taxing for everyone involved, exacerbating existing challenges and creating new ones.

With all this in mind, it will come as no surprise that deciding on the right time to move a loved one into care is not a straightforward decision, and will depend on a person’s circumstances, the stage of their illness, the level of care needed, financial constraints, a caregiver’s ability to ‘let go’ of responsibility and emotional attachment, as well as many, many other considerations.

When will I know it is the right time?

As discussed above, deciding when it is the right time to move a loved one with dementia into a care home is a deeply personal and complex decision. It often depends on the individual’s specific needs, the level of care they require, and the caregiver’s ability to meet those needs at home.

In our experience, many caregivers find that the decision to move a loved one into a care home correlates with:

  • The progression or deterioration of a loved one’s dementia so that their needs have increased, and specialist care is required.
  • Their family or home carer is no longer able (physically and/or emotionally) to provide the level of support and expertise needed to safely support them.
  • They require round-the-clock supervision and care.

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, several signs and factors can help guide this decision-making process:

Signs and factors to look out for

Safety concerns

If the person with dementia is putting themselves or others at risk due to wandering, falls, or inability to manage household items safely (such as forgetting to turn off the stove), it might be time to consider a care home with a secure environment.

Caregiver burnout

If the primary caregiver (often a family member) is experiencing physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion due to the demands of caregiving, it may be an indication that professional assistance is necessary.

Increased agitation and behavioural Issues

It is common for those with dementia to display aggressive behaviour, severe agitation, or other challenging behaviours that are difficult to manage at home. This can be extremely difficult and upsetting for a caregiver, particularly if they are a family member. When things get to this stage, a care home with specialised staff might be better equipped to handle these situations.

Decline in health

If your loved one’s health is deteriorating, requiring medical attention and supervision beyond what can be provided at home, it might be time to consider a move to a care home.

Inability to perform day-to-day activities

If the person with dementia is starting to struggle with basic self-care tasks such as bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting, and requires constant assistance, a care home with professionally trained staff can offer the necessary support.

Social isolation

Often, when dementia progresses into an advanced stage, it can become difficult for a person to leave the home without assistance. This can result in them becoming quite socially isolated at home, leading to feelings of loneliness and depression. A care home can provide those important opportunities for social interactions, activities, and moments of joy. Lifting a person’s spirits with dementia can really make a difference to keeping challenging behaviours controlled/at bay.

Progression of dementia

There is no getting around the fact that eventually, as dementia progresses, the level of care required often increases. If the person's condition has reached a stage where their needs exceed what can be managed at home, considering a care home with specialised dementia care can be the kindest thing you can do for your loved one. Sometimes, it is just a matter of practicality – if family members live far away, have work commitments, or young families and other obligations, and are not able to provide the level and commitment to care needed, professional assistance is a must.

Unplanned hospitalisations

Frequent hospitalisations due to complications related to dementia or other health issues might indicate the need for a higher level of care and supervision. The constant upheaval can sometimes see people with dementia suffer a rapid deterioration or it may just become too overwhelming for a caregiver to cope with.

Who makes the decision?

In some cases, the person with dementia will be capable of deciding for themselves whether they need to move into a care home. If this is the case, then they should make their own decision – but offer any help or support they need to do so. However, it is often true that by the time the person with dementia needs the level of care that a care home provides, they have lost the mental capacity to make the decision for themselves. In this scenario, someone else will need to make this decision for them. This would usually be the person’s attorney under a health and welfare lasting power of attorney.

If the person with dementia doesn’t have an attorney, then it is crucial to involve healthcare professionals in the decision-making process. They can assess your loved one’s condition objectively and provide valuable insights into the level of care required. The decision should ideally be made between health and social care professionals and those closest to the person. Additionally, discussing the options with support groups and seeking advice from experts in dementia care can help families make an informed decision tailored to the specific needs of their loved one.

In the event of a disagreement between family members, it would normally be the health and social care professionals who make the decision but, as with all the outcomes discussed, the person’s family or friends could challenge this decision. If the person doesn’t have someone who knows them well enough to be involved in the discussions, an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) may be appointed by the local authority in England and Wales.

Regardless of who makes the decision to move someone into a care home, it is important to put the best interests of the person living with dementia first.

How can a care home benefit someone with dementia?

At the Future Care Group, our trained staff can offer residents specialised dementia care. More than that, our staff are enthusiastic and dedicated to tailoring their care to each individual. They go out of their way to find out as much as they can about each resident before they have even moved in, ensuring their transition and stay with us is seamless and personal. We offer structured routine, ample social interaction, a wealth of therapeutic activities, and nutritious meals, all within a safe and caring environment.

As a reputable care home group, we also provide support and guidance to families, helping them navigate the challenges of having a loved one with dementia. Plus, as pioneers in health technology, we offer first class, open communication and family involvement, fostering a collaborative approach to care.

Find out more about what dementia care at the Future Care Group involves.

You may also find the following resources useful:

Who pays for care home costs?

How much does a care home cost?

Diet and nutrition tips for people living with dementia

How does animal-assisted therapy help with dementia?

What kind of games are good for people with dementia?

Care home food: Common myths debunked

Therapy dolls for dementia: What are they and how do they help?

Early signs of dementia in men

The correlation between memory and music

Why not follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter to see daily updates on the moments of joy experienced daily by residents.

Understanding these emotional, social, and practical challenges is crucial in providing support to families facing the decision to move a person with dementia into a care home. Open communication, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals and support groups, and acknowledging the complexity of the decision can help families navigate this arduous process. If you or a loved one are thinking about moving into a care home, why not book a visit to see first-hand the award-winning care we can provide.

Location contact form